In this time of Advent, Christmas lists are made and reviewed, trees are brought into the home and lights brought outside of it (a bit odd), and many other traditions reign down upon us. It is a wonderful time to enjoy a season that invites people to be a bit closer to one another, to be a bit more considerate of the wants and needs of another, and to be aware that for followers of Jesus, this time of looking back to his birth is where tradition is rooted in our ancient birth story.
Israel was waiting and ready for God to birth something new. A Messiah, just as they imagined it was supposed to be scripted. That’s not how it happened. No conquering hero to return Israel to its place and position of power, no savvy warrior to lead a charging force, and no king to rise above the emperor, born in a palace of power and privilege. Instead, a young woman, really a girl of around 15 years, a couple not yet married, a barn for birthing, and visiting, semi-homeless folks (shepherds). If only God would work to our script. Isn’t that an inviting expectation, or a common way of operating? “Dear God, I have a list of things to be done. They’re good things, I’ve thought long and hard about what and how I want it to be. Please complete the list in a timely fashion. I’ll keep praying for your swift execution, especially since patience didn’t make the list this year.”
Christmas is a time ancient yesterdays, but it is also a time of ancient yesterdays fueled by a birth. A time of new beginning. A time when we are very much aware that God is God and we are not, and Holy involvement in our lives and the world is not confined by our lists and frameworks. So, before we get to January, a time when people consider for themselves changes they’d like in their own lives, let us consider that God’s gift to us in this season includes Divine movement to bring new birth, maybe in ways we’ve yet to consider. Give a gift to yourself – the gift of expecting and seeking to change in response to the Spirit of Love. How is God moving in your life in this Advent?
For our congregation, God is calling us, I am sure, to new beginning and new birth. To reach back to the ancient place of Bethlehem and the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus to encounter a Gospel gift that is to lead us in new ways to be of God’s Church into the future. How is God moving in our congregation? And, in God’s world, despite a long history and tumultuous present wracked with human inhumanity, there is continued yearning for, movement toward, and struggling with that which compels people to be together in more caring, compassionate, and healthy ways. How and in whom is God moving in this world?
Life and change. When one stops, so does the other. Those are God’s gift to us! Expect and seek to be surprised beyond your current scope of expectations. After all, it is Christmas. Our gift to God…faithfully respond and follow.